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Enriquez Estate Wines 

Uncorking a new age

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Toasting the new year? The Bohemian's guide to unique, small-batch sparkling wines is due on newsstands Wednesday, Dec. 26—if, that is, the finale of the Mayan "long count" calendar due on Dec. 21 leads to nothing more apocalyptic than another day of frenzied Christmas shopping. Just in case, we've picked out a wine to toast the end of days, too.

Featuring a ghosted image of Mexico's iconic Chichen Itza pyramid, it'll do if we're just shopping by the label, anyway—and who doesn't? May we also assume that Enriquez is among those wineries founded by a close-knit Mexican-American family whose hardworking parents migrated north for better opportunities? Naturally. When they first saw the vineyard, bordering Petaluma Airport and the Rooster Run Golf Club, it was a dream come true. "I can have my plane right there!" said aviation, golf and fine wine enthusiast Eduardo Enriquez. "Oh Dad, this is perfect," said daughter Cecilia. "I can quit my job, move out here to California and start my own wine brand!" And that is where our assumptions end.

Accomplished in the fields of internal medicine and banking, Eduardo hails from Guadalajara but grew up in South Jersey, where his father was a top cardiovascular surgeon. Millennial-aged Cecilia majored in business and got a financial services job right out of school, but "absolutely hated it." A family trip to wine country proved unexpectedly auspicious. After closing on the property in 2011, Cecilia energetically addressed herself to building a wine club and connecting with charity organizations, while learning cellar craft from Michael Carr of Roche Winery (whose facility is leased on the property).

Happy to laugh about her newbie status, Enriquez explains that she designed the Mayan-themed label. "I really liked what it stood for," she says. "They were very sophisticated and elite people, and that's kind of what I want to do with the wine. I want it to be an exclusive, ultra-premium brand." Tasting is by appointment only, at the vineyard's 1930s farmhouse; we found Cecilia at Petaluma's La Dolce Vita wine lounge, which hosts tastings of new and small wineries.

A dry, floral white with a bit of tropical zest, the 2011 "Brisa" ($28) is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, and Chardonnay. The 2009 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($38) is an agreeable sipper with cherry, rose, orange rind, and sweet, bright cherry flavor. The champ here is the 2009 Sonoma Coast Tempranillo ($32), a chewy mouthful of black cherry fruit; a good showing for Tempranillo, a perpetually up-and-coming alternative varietal in California. Now, there's a new era that we can toast to.

Enriquez Estate Wines, Petaluma. Tasting by appointment only; hours vary. Call for more information. 707.347.9719.

  • Uncorking a new age

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